“Why We Can’t Wait?” By Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! Take today to ponder the truth of these quotes and how they still apply to today. Ponder how the church can help further the legacy of Dr. King and what part can you play?

These are excerpts taken from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s book Why We Can’t Wait?


“Undeniably, the Negro had been an object of sympathy and wore the scars of deep grievances, but the nation had come to count on him as a creature who could suffer quietly  endure and silently suffer and patiently wait”

“Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say “Wait””

“when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair.” (BLM)

“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens’ Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the presence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct actions”; who is paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time  and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.”


there is a certain irony in the picture of his (the Negro) country championing freedom in foreign lands and failing to ensure that freedom to twenty million of its own.”

“Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”

“It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro with no alternative”

“For too long the depth of racism in American life  has been underestimated.”

“It is this tangled web of prejudice from which many Americans now seek to liberate themselves without realizing now deeply it has been woven into their consciousness.”

“We need a powerful sense of determination to banish the ugly blemish of racism scarring the image of America.”

“The sooner our society admits that the Negro Revolution is no momentary outburst soon to subside into placid passivity, the easier the  future will be for us all.”


“When he seeks opportunity, he is told, in effect, to lift himself by his own bootstraps, advice which does not take into account the fact that he is barefoot.”


I suggested that only a “dry as dust” religion prompts a minister to extol the glories of heaven while ignoring the social conditions  that cause men an earthly hell”

“We did not take this radical step without prolonged and prayerful consideration.”

“God’s companionship does not stop at the door of the jail cell.”

“Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that is higher moral law was at stake.”


“The ultimate tragedy of Birmingham was not the brutality of the bad people, but the silence of good people”

“Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the  good people.”


“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice  everywhere.”


“I am not afraid of the word tension. I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth”

White Voices

“A few white voices spoke out boldly, but few people listened with sympathy.”


“A movement that changes both people and institutions is a revolution.”


“Solutions to the complex plight of the Negro will not be easy. This does not signify that they are impossible.”

“Unity has never meant uniformity”

“It is impossible to create a formula for the future which does not take into account that our society has been doing something special against the Negro for hundreds of years. How then can he be absorbed into the mainstreams of American life if we do not do something special for him now, in order to balance the equation and equip him to compete on a just and equal basis?”



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